UPDATE: The father at the centre of an international custody dispute has pleaded with the Australian public to “calm down”.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said: “I am destroyed because my daughters remain not well.”
He words come in the wake of an Australian Family Court judge’s decision to send the man’s four daughters – aged 9 between 15 – from Australian to Italy to be with him.
Since the four girls arrived at his home last week, television crews have filmed emotion scene – including one incident where the two oldest girls tried to run away.
The father has not let his daughters talk to their mother since they arrived in Italy. “I said to her, stay calm, it is impossible for you to speak to the girls. I hope she comes here in peace. That is my wish. If she continues with the war and the struggles, it’s not going to help anything,” he said.
Mamamia previously reported…
It was a distressing scene.
Holiday-makers waiting for flights at Brisbane’s International Airport today, witnessed four young girls being dragged by more than ten uniformed officers, through the terminal and onto a plane.
The girls, sisters aged 9 between 15, have been at the center of an international custody dispute and have been ordered to return to Italy so that the legal matter can be resolved.
Other passengers looked on in horror as the girls refused to board the flight voluntarily; screaming and shouting that they wanted to remain with their mother in Australia.
“Let me go, I want to go home” cried the eldest sister as she was forcibly pulled towards the airport gate.
“Let me go, I want my mum, I want my mum” called one of the younger girls.
The parents of the girls had a shared custody arrangement prior to their mother bringing them to Australia in June 2010 on holiday and then refusing to return.
Their father then invoked an international treaty against child abduction, in an attempt to have the girls returned to Italy so that the custody dispute could be resolved under Italian laws.
Yesterday a family court judge ordered that sisters be returned to Italy to live with their father as soon as possible. The girls’ mother was in court while the judgement was read and cried throughout the process.
As part of his judgement the Australian family court judge Justice Forest required an undertaking from the father that any criminal action against the mother would be withdrawn. The Department of Communities will send officials to care for the children on their journey to Italy.
Last night there were reports that the girls’ mother clung to an Australian Federal Police vehicle as it drove away with her children inside. She then fell to the ground, sobbing and exhausted.
The mother told ABC Radio in Brisbane this morning: ‘‘I’m just praying, I don’t know what to think, I’m just terrified right now”.
News.com.au reports that late last night:
[Reporters] witnessed one of the girls trying to escape from the rear of another car before she was restrained by one of two male officers in the vehicle.
They had just detained the girl after she tried to flee the apartment where they found her and her sisters. She banged on the rear window of the vehicle as it drove off, tearfully crying out that she wanted to talk to the journalist.
The four girls had spent their last hours of freedom together waiting in fear at the home of an elderly family friend. They watched the TV news as they waited for the knock on the door that would signal their deportation.
This final refuge for the girls, who spent weeks in hiding with their great-grandmother this year when the court first ordered they be returned, was a unit in a retirement village on the Sunshine Coast. The normally tranquil surrounds were yesterday evening a scene of tears, anxiety and defiance.
The eldest girl spoke briefly to The Courier-Mail but was too fearful of the consequences for her mother, who the court has banned from talking to the media, to give any information. “I’ll get my mum in trouble, I have to go,” she said.
The Australian judge has made clear that the girls’ mother is of course free to return to Italy as well. There are currently no reports that the mother is considering doing so.
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